A sense of joy and hope in a Lima school
12 November 2013
Posted by Maurizio Borgatti
I was recently lucky enough to conclude a two week Peruvian holiday with a last day visit to the San Francisco De Asis Special Education centre in Surco Lima. Sense International and the European Union co-funded a new sensory room there in December 2011.
As I had never been to see any of the centres before, I was unsure what to expect, or what affect a visit at the end of a holiday would have on me personally. I am pleased to say, I actually found the visit to be a tremendously enjoyable and enlightening experience. So, I thought it might be of some value to share my experiences with my UK colleagues.
The centre takes in children with a wide range of sensory impairments and I met children with both profound and wide ranging impairments and some with more specific problems with hearing or sight alone. The teachers and staff all shared common traits such as their enthusiasm to show what the children could achieve in terms of independence, and the obvious caring bond they had with the children.
The classes were carefully segmented to ensure all the children were receiving the right type of attention and being given the opportunities to communicate their feelings and creative natures to the fullest individual potential possible.
The sense of joy and hope pervading the school was infectious and I found myself laughing along with many of the children as I was given an insight into their world.
The things I will remember most include:
- Harry, a young deafblind child who gave his teacher a sudden and impromptu warm embrace before setting off for a day trip to a local farm.
- Another young boy who was happily reading his Braille book aloud and took good natured exception to his teacher turning the pages to show me the book before he had finished reading the page he was on!
- Ricardo (our Peru country director) also translated the word of a young blind boy, who had found it hilarious when he heard me speak and had identified I was 'English' and left me with the translated comment of "I really must learn English so I can visit Oklahoma".
- I met a 15 year old deafblind girl who had for the first 14 years of her life been kept in over protective seclusion by a caring family but was now thriving and making remarkable progress in a new supportive and educational environment.
- I also got to see the Sense International funded sensory room and saw how parents are shown how they can stimulate their children, with a new world of engaging textures, smells and colours.
The education centre may be a beacon of excellence and an exemplary example of how deafblind children can be best served by such services. However, I was reminded of the fact that it remains a one off in a country with a far higher deafblind population than can be helped by this school alone.
There remains a lot more we can do to help these children.
I found my visit to be both inspiring and motivational in terms of my particular work, and a profoundly joyous experience as I was surrounded by so much love and hope for better futures.
Maurizio Borgatti is Sense International's Corporate Development Manager
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First published: Friday 7 June 2013
Last updated: Thursday 18 September 2014